Wilson BLX Six.One 95 18x20 Tennis Racquet
Since the first Wilson Pro Staff Classic hit the market in the mid-90s, high-level players have flocked to the series for feel and control. Following in that tradition, Wilson has updated the line for a new season. Still available in 2 string patterns, I’m trying the BLX Six.One 95 in the 18x20 pattern today.
Wilson takes “old school” seriously on this series, using a heavy/head light design with narrow beams. It weighs a hefty 11.7 ounces unstrung, but the balance mass is almost ridiculously in the handle, with a 9-point head light balance (12 3/8”/315 mm). A moderate flex of 66 combines with 22mm beams to ensure a feeling of controlled flexibility. The 95 square inch head size is appreciated by advanced players for its control potential, and the 18x20 pattern both solves, and creates, problems as opposed to the 16x18 (see Fine Points). Since so much of the weight is in the handle, the 328 strung swingweight doesn’t seem quite as significant.
The mass of the frame makes up for its narrow head, providing good stability on groundstrokes (even those mishit on the sides). Hit it up high, though, and you’ll feel a noticeable flex and loss of power, as the narrow beams and lower stiffness make for weaker performance at the tip.
Since the Six.One has most of its weight in the handle, the sweet spot follows the weight and sits a little low. I got excellent power in its “hot zone” just a few cross strings below the center. Hit it cleanly and the racquet rewards you quite nicely, but high mishits are penalized, as noted earlier.
The light head makes it quite easy to drive through the ball, and I hit solid, penetrating shots with the Six.One 95. The dense string pattern adds noticeable control over the 16x18 version, and the feel of the string bed is much more solid (some might say “stiff”). Slice groundies take off nicely, the lower sweet spot matching up well with the contact point for these shots. All in all, the Six.One 95 definitely suits advanced all-court players from the baseline.
The Six.One series has always been liked by net players, as it has a high recoilweight (resistance to “kicking back” in the hand) and excellent feel. Basalt fibers combined with Wilson’s new Amplifeel handle pallets only reinforce that reputation, giving this year’s model even better communication with the player. Whether I try to snap off a volley or feather it short and soft, the frame lets me know exactly how well I did (or didn’t) pull it off. The tighter pattern reduces the amount of spin available for some of those feathery shots, but placement and control are both improved.
The head light frame is quite easy to move up high on serves and smashes, despite the weight, and the ability to generate racquet head speed combines with the tighter string bed to give flat serves additional control. “Scissor kick” overheads are also simplified with this model.
The Pro Hybrid grip isn’t exactly traditional leather, but the foam backing is a fine comfort aid. It’s a little thin, which allows for good feel of the handle’s bevels. The bumper guard has good depth, so you won’t have to worry about string damage for quite a while, even if you’re an active net player like me.
The aerodynamic beam allows for less wind resistance than the Pro Staff series, and the paint job, while not as eye-catching as the Pro Staff’s, is a definite improvement over the original BLX’s dour black design.
Now, on to the string pattern. As a player, I love how the density of the 18x20 pattern allows me to control the ball, even as I bemoan the lack of additional spin it provides. As a technician, I appreciate the more even string spacing of this design over the 18x20, along with the added string durability. In my experience, there should be about a 5% change in string tension when changing patterns: string the 18x20 5% lower than the 16x18 for similar feel and depth. You may also want to use a thinner gauge string to get a little softer string face (I know that may cause faster breakage, but the strings move very little). So, just to be straight: if you break a lot of strings, either get the 18x20 pattern or deal with string breakage. If you love spin, get the 16x18 and you’ll love it.
Wilson has made a good improvement on an already classic design with the BLX Six.One 95 18x20. Consistent flexibility combined with traditional weighting and head size setups give advanced players everything they could want in a control-oriented frame. Solid groundstroke execution combined with fine feel and variety at net and on serve make this frame an advanced player’s dream come true. Since there are two string pattern choices, you can decide how much spin (or durability) you want - something most frame lines don’t offer. All in all, Wilson has hit another home run in advanced (4.5 and above) player racquet design.